February 24, 2017, by pressoffice
The University of Nottingham’s response to The Guardian
This week we were approached for a statement by The Guardian who submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request regarding allegations of sexual assaults at the University.
We replied to the request in November 2016 and, in line with our policy and the law on not identifying victims of sexual assault, we listed our figures, where there were allegations, as less than 10.
This revealed we had less than 10 allegations from students, relating to university staff, in the past three years. This gave a total of 11 incidents in last five years.
Similarly with regards allegations of staff from staff there have been fewer than 10 allegations in the last five years. See the full response at the bottom of this page.
Above all our duty is to the victim in any case of alleged assault.
We have a number of policies in place to ensure that any person who makes an allegation is offered support and counselling.
We run initiatives such as Let’s be Clear on Consent which is about raising awareness on sexual consent among our students and staff.
We work closely with the Police and specialist services and can ensure victims can access any help they may need.
We also see it as our duty to ensure that any allegations are investigated swiftly and robustly.
This week we were pressed for more specific figures so The Guardian could; “estimate the total number of allegations” for all the universities they had questioned.
We had a number of concerns about providing this more specific data. The University of Nottingham’s policy for some time has been to disclose any figures of 1 – 9 as “less than 10” because the smaller the number, the greater the likelihood of an individual being identified or identifiable either from the information alone, or from any further information that could already be in an individual’s possession, or could come into their possession (e.g. through another FOI).
When responding to FOI requests there is a specific exemption which means we are not obliged to provide information that is the personal data of a living individual if releasing it would contravene any provisions of the Data Protection Act.
In this instance we felt the release of this information in specific terms would contravene the first data protection principle (a requirement to process data fairly and lawfully) as due to the sensitive nature of the information an individual would have a legitimate expectation that it is kept confidential.
We were told that The Guardian’s “data experts” would be calculating our totals by estimating figures based on these responses – an entirely arbitrary and misleading process which we feel undermines the figures and wildly skews the results.
Our formal response to The Guardian is below:
A University of Nottingham spokesperson said: “We are very clear that there is no place for violence and sexual harassment on a university campus, nor anywhere else.
“Where allegations are made we ensure that victims are offered support and counselling and that robust investigations are carried out.
“There have been no such allegations from students, relating to university staff, in the past three years** and a total of 10 incidents in the two years prior to this. Similarly with regards allegations of staff from staff there have been less than 10 allegations in the last five years. Clearly our range of initiatives and policies around this issue is helping to drive this message home.”
We are therefore extremely disappointed that The Guardian has chosen to proceed in any case, creating data based on the ranges we have provided, and giving a quite misleading impression of the formal position. We are far from complacent on this issue and accept that the number of reported allegations is likely to be significantly lower than actual incidents. We will continue to work hard to tackle these matters but feel that this kind of speculative reporting is not going to help.
Our responses to the two questions on which The Guardian wanted clarification.
How many allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, stalking and/or other gender violence or sexual misconduct by university staff have you received from students each year, over the past five years? If recorded, what was the gender of the staff and students concerned? Please breakdown by academic/non-academic staff.
2012/13 – Less than 10*
2013/14 – Less than 10
2014/15 – 0
2015/16 – 0
2016/17 – 0**
*We can clarify that the combined total for the academic years 2012/13 – 2016/17 amounts to 10 cases.
**Since providing this information a further FOI request has identified a discrepancy with the initial response. The Guardian have been made aware of the change which has identified less than 10 allegations within the last three years. The total number of allegations for the last five years is 11.
How many allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, stalking and/or other gender violence or sexual misconduct by university staff have you received from other members of staff for each year over the past five years? If recorded, what was the gender of the complainant and the person accused? Please breakdown by academic/non-academic staff.
2012/13 – 0
2013/14 – 0
2014/15 – 0
2015/16 – 0
2016/17 – Less than 10
No comments yet, fill out a comment to be the first